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Turning Away from Europe

Turkey’s second thoughts.

Dec 19, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 14 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
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In one sense, it would seem that Turkey’s estrangement from the EU was inevitable: The European Union is in the midst of an existential, as well as financial, crisis, and there is no telling how it will end. The fractured alliance is not likely ever to resemble the Europe that Turkey applied to join in 1987. The Turks can hardly be blamed for expressing reservations. In a larger sense, however, this is more bad news about a crossroads power that has, in the past, been useful to American interests. Turkey’s gathering sense of itself as the supreme Muslim power in the region appeals to the “reset” mentality in the White House—Erdogan says things about Israel in public that President Obama must think privately—and reduces European influence in the Middle East. 

Neither of these developments can be welcome. Turkey’s tiny Christian neighbor Armenia, for example, which harbors unhappy memories of Ottoman misrule, and is subject to economic and diplomatic blockade, has lost the prospect of European Union membership as a moderating influence on Ankara. And any Turkish government that turns resolutely away from Europe, and plays to the Islamist gallery, is by any measure bad news for Washington and the long-term objectives of American policy.

Philip Terzian is literary editor of The Weekly Standard.

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